“It Was An Awful Putt. It Stunk”

It still stings two and a half months later.

You can see it on his face as he tells you the story. The always polite man from Kansas wrinkles his brow when he remembers that weekend in July.

He’s told this tale more than once and will tell it again everywhere he goes for the rest of his life.

Tom Watson, at 59 years of age, just completed a picture perfect tee shot on the 72nd hole at Turnberry. Everything seemed final. Watson would become the oldest major winner in professional golf history at a course where he picked up an Open title in 1977.

Except he finished in second place.

“When I saw the ball [in the air] on my second shot,” Watson said Wednesday at a press conference before the Senior Players Championship. “It reminded me of ’77.”

In that tournament, famously dubbed “The Duel In The Sun,” Watson beat out Jack Nicklaus to win the Claret Jug. He wasn’t as lucky this time at Turnberry.

Watson said he knew something was up when he heard the crowd, pulling for him all weekend long, gasped after the ball rolled off the green. When an entire United Kingdom groans in unison, it’s never a good sign for a living legend.

Watson remembers everything about the 18th hole at Turnberry on that Sunday. The distances to the front of the green, to the pin and why he chose to hit an 8-iron instead of a 9-iron. “I thought it was the right choice,” he simply put it. Nearly three months later, he still thinks he should have hit the 8.

And yes, he still remembers the putt for par.

“It was an awful putt. It stunk.”

Watson kept saying that he just wanted a shot to win the championship. In the minds of many who woke up early to see a legend peak with the best in the world, the real winner of the 2009 Open Championship was Tom Watson.

Don’t let facts get in the way of a truly remarkable story.


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